Building public trust

It is Government’s responsibility to use smart technologies to deliver better services, and to identify and respond to community concerns, including those relating to privacy, security and ethical considerations.

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There are already many applications of AI in government that benefit citizens, including for traffic management, chatbots in customer service centres and better designed health services. The private sector routinely uses data for targeted service delivery and marketing purposes. Often, the public may not be aware that their data is being used for AI solutions that have direct and demonstrable benefits.

To this effect, the NSW Government will establish a new AI Review Committee that will review project plans and assist with implementation to ensure solutions meet the government’s high ethical standards.

This Strategy recognises that more needs to be done to provide assurance to the community that Government will always strive to ensure the safe use of AI, finding the balance between opportunity and risk, and protecting customers and citizen’s privacy and security.

What we heard

The key messages received from stakeholders about building public trust were:

  • There is a low level of awareness of what AI is and what it means to the citizen and community

It is Government’s role to raise public awareness of what AI is, what it isn’t, and what it can be used for. This is key to developing public acceptance and understanding of the technology.

  • AI projects must produce demonstrable beneficial outcomes

Demonstrating the use of AI to improve social outcomes such as promoting more equitable access to resources and services, and promoting successes, will have positive impacts on community understanding of AI and its benefits.

  • Government AI projects should be, where appropriate, co-designed and always with users and community outcomes as the priority

Community consultation and collaboration on service design is essential. Communities have the right to influence government decision-making where those decisions, and the data on which they are based, will have an impact on them. Explainability of how AI solutions are used, and for what purpose, will help build confidence and transparency. Citizens must also have access to appropriate and efficient mechanisms should they wish to seek a review of an AI-informed decision.

  • AI needs to have strong privacy and data management safeguards in place

Citizens need to be aware of how their data is being used and for what purpose. They need confidence that data is being used within the robust privacy framework provided by the range of privacy and information access legislation provided by the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, Government Information (Public Access Act) 2009, and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002, among other statutes. Without public trust in the systems Government develops, it will lack the social licence to use data to deliver better outcomes for customers.

  • Accountability for AI decisions remains with agencies

The Government’s approach to AI, and other technologies, must assure the community that accountability remains with Government and that it will be used in accordance with NSW regulatory privacy and data sharing frameworks.

  • No person will ever lose a right, privilege or entitlement without right of appeal

As for any Government decision, an individual should be able to question a decision or outcome and understand the basis on which that decision was made. Agencies need to factor in review processes in their project planning to ensure no person shall lose a right, privilege or entitlement without access to a review process. Agencies must have mechanisms in place to be able to explain a decision or outcome that is informed by AI.


The NSW Government will make clear that use of AI is to improve services and decision-making, and carefully managed in accordance with privacy and broader legal frameworks:


Action Responsibility Timeframe Status

Develop an AI User Guide to guide agencies on transparency, and explainability of AI solutions

DCS Complete Complete
Public, industry, academia forum to showcase the NSW Government’s AI Strategy DCS Q2 2020 Complete
Deliver online platform that informs the public about AI and allows the public to ask questions about the technology and how it is used DCS Q4 2020 Complete
Establish an AI Advisory Committee, to be chaired by the NSW Government Chief Data Scientist, to provide expert advice to NSW government on the use of AI DCS Q4 2020 Complete
Community engagement pulse checks on AI use in government DCS Q4 2020 Complete
Develop repository of reusable patterns for AI and automated decisions – for example explainability, decision review and consent for data use DCS – Data Analytics Centre Q4 2020 Complete
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